McCarthy still evaluating coaching staff
Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy's season-ending press conference Wednesday morning was filled with platitudes and big-picture discussion, but pretty light on specifics. Speaking for about 30 minutes, McCarthy told Wisconsin reporters:
- He has made no decisions about his coaching staff, most notably the future of defensive coordinator Bob Sanders. McCarthy is evaluating coordinators Wednesday and the rest of his assistants next week.
- Suggesting that youth is a reason for the Packers' 6-10 record is "convenient," but not necessarily accurate.
- The Packers "definitely made the right move at the quarterback position" by trading Brett Favre and installing Aaron Rodgers as the starter.
- The defense never overcame the season-ending injury of defensive end Cullen Jenkins.
- It's too early to know who will play middle linebacker next season. Incumbent Nick Barnett is recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
To me, the most interesting part of the session came when McCarthy was asked about the Packers' general lack of pass rush this season. Yes, Jenkins was injured and veteran Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila flamed out, but from a layman's perspective it didn't appear the Packers followed through on their offseason promises to bring more pressure through blitzes and other schematic adjustments.
McCarthy said he and Sanders will speak "at length" about the pass rush in the coming days. But didn't they have the same conversation last year? And the year before that? McCarthy said the Packers had the necessary blitzes in their game plans this season but suggested they didn't -- or couldn't -- use them as often as they would have liked:
"Defense is obviously different than offense. Offense, they determine how you line up and when the ball is snapped. Defense, you prepare for certain personnel groups and certain situations and when they do occur, you call certain defenses. If they don't occur, those types of packages may not be used. They are all still part of our defense."
It's awfully convenient, to use McCarthy's word, to blame offenses for taking you out of your blitz packages. In reality, it means you got out-schemed, and the exchange indicates it will be hard for Sanders to keep his job following this week's evaluation.
If McCarthy and Sanders left last year's meeting with a plan to blitz more frequently, then Sanders failed to execute it. That's a pretty significant omission, and the Packers have now ended three consecutive seasons saying they need to improve their pass rush. Coordinators don't often get a third chance to make that correction.